May 17, 2005 7:37am
Contemporary books in Project Gutenberg in need of readership and reviews
Dear reader and potential reviewer:
15 years has gone into my three books. The poetry, begun as an undergraduate, became a master's degree thesis at a Missouri university but published later by Towson State University in Baltimore, Maryland (Professor Clarinda Harriss, editor).
Project Gutenberg, which usually publishes famous deceased authors as part of a library archive sponsored by the University of North Carolina, has republished the book of poetry, An American Papyrus, and my two literary novels. My work is incredibly literary and as such it has to be studied. If you have any clue how best to get qualified reviewers for it I would be glad to hear it. Online Books will not catalogue Corpus of a Siam Mosquito until I get qualified and thorough reviews by professionals. Unlike the poetry, that was published by Towson State University and is catalogued in a hundred libraries in the states, the novels have never been in print. Anyhow, if you could write me back I'd appreciate it. Note: all Project Gutenberg books can be accessed with a PDA for convenience
[moderator: external links removed, please don't put them back again]
Twenty-six poems make up this first published book by Steven Sills, 26, of Fayetteville. Sills' vision is often a dark one. He writes of the homeless, the abused, the forgotten people. He is also intrigued with the mystical, the sensual, loss--as in losing those whom we hold dear, such as a spouse or lover--as well as the lost, such as someone who is autistic, who seems unreachable. Sills' skillful use of the language to impart the telling moments of a life is his strength. He chooses his words carefully, employing a well-developed vocabulary. He is thoughtful about punctuation, where to break lines and when to make a new stanza. He's obviously well versed in "great" literature.
Sills' command of language helps to soften the blows of some of the seemier passages found in his poems. Seamy may not be the best word to use. Perhaps gritty is a better word or just plain matter-of-fact and to the point, as in this descriptive passage from "Oracion A Traves De Gass," about the hopeless feelings of a respiratory therapy worker:
"With the last of the air drawing in/ Begins to fold its walls; and he could imagine it/ Like he could imagine from unexact memories/ The woman last night at the hospital, whom he began to like---/ Her body pulling cell by cell/ Apart before he had a chance to finish the rescue with the hose."
The book begins with "Post-Annulment2" a poem with a poignant description of society's displaced--"As the sun blazes upon the terminal's/ Scraped concrete/The shelved rows of the poor men"--and continues by describing a city scene through the eyes of a maintenence worker at the Hilton Hotel. The protagonist's wife has left him and he is taking the bus to work that morning, his mind wandering as he looks for the key to why she is gone. "He rings the bell. / The idea of her not home and legally annuled/ From his life--her small crotch not tightened to his desperate thrusts/ Makes him feel sick. He gets down from the bus./ He goes to work. He suddenly knows that he is not in love."
As many poets will do, Sills could not leave this work alone. So a hybrid of this poem, "Post-Annulment" ends the book. In it, he has kept many of the original lines and added parenthetical remarks to expand on his ideas. It is in this context he allows himself to comment on religion: "Religion is a lie! Everything is a lie!" and on marriage: "Marriage, that santified legal rape, fosters the child-man to be a destined societal function as he grows up in the family unit."
Not all of the poems are so bleak and cynical in every passage, however, as is apparent in "The San Franciscan's Night Meditations": "The night is full of impulses to live and run and seep heavily into its dark robes of silence and morbid rightness." People who do not feel comfortable examining in detail the darker side of life--the the details that the average person overlooks because it just hurts or feels to strange to look--will not enjoy this book. Serious writers of free verse, contemporary poetry and/or those who study it will not be disappointed.
Sills, a native of Missouri, is a recent graduate of Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield. He currently is working in Fayetteville. Sills dedicated his book to Mike Burns, a poet and teacher at SMSU who helped him edit his work.
Steven Sills, poet and novelist (by Christie Smith, Write Times)
An American Papyrus Steven Sills: An American poet and novelist (Reviewed by Christie Smith for Write Times magazine) Posted By: stevensills On: 2000-09-03 11:41:25 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------wordwrangler.com Steven Sills - An American Poet and Novelist Reviewed and interviewed by Christie Smith It is our pleasure to share an interview with a published author as well as a review of his works. In his first book, An American Papyrus, Steven Sills shares poetry that gets right down to the nitty-gritty of life, making no apologies for his often brazen accusations, or for the harsh descriptions of the darkened recesses of closets in which skeletons hide. He writes with a jaded honesty that forces one to acknowledge what yearns to be forgotten,drawing one into the heart of the character and the soul of the reader to open old wounds to healing. (from "Becky's Demon" ) Yes. Papa stopped. His eyes moved. I'd never seen his eyes move before. They stared down at me. My child's eyes below-- and he aimed his for them as a fisher for prey in clear waters. I backed up behind the pipe of the kitchen stove... But with one stretch he reached his arm over Like a bear's paw that in force comes down like a Redwood. With excellent command of the English Language, Sills weaves tapestries with his words. Tapestries not of silk, smoothing over reality with polish and finesse, but with a rough, knotty texture reminiscent of burlap and twine. He writes with equal clarity and brilliance on most any subject, developing characters who bridge the gap between social classes, gender, and sexual preferences. He writes as easily of coal miners and corporate moguls, of housewives and and homosexuals, incorporating richly detailed descriptions that bring the reader to the scene. (from "A Gentleman's Right) He was fifty now, so there Must not have been any question: Lessen the speed at the train tracks; Stumble his car over their ribs; Swerve closely to the drive At a slower pace, and hope That where men dodge the bumping Of their tails from parks For a private club, That one would come Out from the doors, partnerless. (from "Bar Room Buddies") We invested our capital In the Silicon Valleys of this great nation. Third world bitches, in factories, became sick for our chips. We held power. We bred metals and bought the ownership titles Of properties, but could not find a home of the world. We married again and brought forth children Whom were duplicate strangers of ourselves I confess that I have not yet had the opportunity to read his completed novels. The review therefore has to encompass the excerpts Sills has offered for public viewing on the website. When I read the chapter from Gabriele Departing America, I found that his gift for detail is not compromised in the least when it comes to writing a full novel-length story. The novel is a tale about an American-raised Korean, Sang Huin, now back in his native homeland, struggling to find his own identity in a culture he knows little about. Discovering a creative streak within himself, he invents the story of Gabriele on his laptop. The story spans continental boundaries, and the dysfunctional lives of the fictional author and the characters of his book are interwoven as Sang Huin develops Gabriel's storyline. In the preview chapter made available on the website, the reader delves into the mind of Sang Huin's lead character as she reflects on the demise of her marriage while doing her laundry in a public washateria in Tijuana. It is there that she later forges a friendship with a woman named Hilda. It would be 80 degrees on that day in Mid-February and she had come to do her laundry earlier than usual. Her mind swished like her socks: foamed, compressed, locked in, and lost. Somewhere, on one continent or another, something had severed within herself. She was not going to blame Kato and especially at this late date. She watched the diving dances of the laundry. She imagined two men's socks of different colors and sizes intertwining with the fast movements of her wash. *** *** She liked a disconnection--a dismembering-- that had been made neatly in one quick motion of the knife. She felt that it was good even if the knife had not been sterile. He said to her, "When we went snow skiing and Kato broke his foot I lifted it and touched him in front of you without wanting to hide anything. You stood on the embankment. Your bangs were pulled away from your cap and were in your eyes, but I could see that you understood fully." He told her this from their room at the lodge while Kato, on his crutches, gazed at him horrified. Steven Sills also offers a glimpse of his upcoming novel, Corpus of a Siam Mosquito, on his website. Again, only a chapter is posted, giving just a hint of what to expect. I had the opportunity to get to know more about Sills and his works through correspondence, and I am delighted to be able to share my findings with the public through our zine. Steven, the title of your newest book is quite unusual! One rarely gives thought to mosquitos of any kind, much less it's anatomy. Can you tell our readers what the novel is actually about? Corpus of a Siam Mosquito is not a finished novel. It concerns Jatupon, a 14 year old boy who leaves Ayuttaya with his teenage brothers for Bangkok, following the death of their parents in an automobile accident. Stuck in the poverty of being a noodle worker, and the sexual abuse/love with one of the older brothers (I haven't the faintest idea why I deal with this topic... it is not part of my experience) only a wealthy uncle offers some deliverance by taking him into his home as a son. The uncle's death in a plane accident following his graduation from college makes Jatupon disconcerted, since unconditional love had been so brutally taken from him. In a response for a solid foundation, he marries a woman from his university, Nappawan. Have you always lived in America? You seem to write as well about overseas locations as you do about the local relevance. Initially I am from Moberly, Missouri and I lived there for most of my life. I now work at Siam University in Bangkok Thailand. Every writer has something, or someone, in their background who had a profound impact on their desire to put pen to paper. What influenced you to begin writing? Who spurred you on? From childhood the pensive and thoughtful music of the 60's and 70's seemed to shape the solemn ideas in the creative loner that I was from my earliest years. Childhood epilepsy and having no real male role model (a father who hated me-- he's now deceased) seemed to heighten those melodic and perhaps lugubrious melodies of the 60's (i.e. Peter Paul And Mary's "5000 Miles Away From Home," or Glen Campbell's "Galveston" or "Line Man For the County.") When I was 12 or 13 I was fortunate enough to encounter an English teacher, Greg Wirsig, from Kahoka Missouri, who enriched my life with Steinbeck and Orwell. When I was 16 Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter made such an enormous impact that I began my omnivorous readings of the classics (especially all of the American Romantics). How have the highs and lows of your moderate success affected you? I can't claim to be successful. I've only had two people who believed in my writings: Mike Burns and Clarinda Harriss and the latter one has a real sense of the obsession and how it has robbed me of so much. My quest to write and to make literature a vocation has been a rather horrifying one. It has taken me into a few homeless shelters in Fayetteville, Arkansas and San Diego, California and made me spend so many years totally lost. It has only been since I turned 30 that I've actually gained a balance, so that I feel that I can make a living to support my habit. That is why I have been living away from the American experience so long: Japan, South Korea, Mexico, and now in Thailand. In college my grades were somewhat low because I was writing my first book at the age of 21. All of "An American Papyrus" was begun at that age at Southwest Missouri State University and I worked obsessively with it for five years. I noticed that the name Gabrielle appears in your poetry, as well as being the central character of one of your novels. Is that coincidence? Or is there really a Gabrielle in your life? Gabriele is a real woman. I met her in a dormitory when I was 21. Of all the people who I've ever met, she is my ideal of the self-actualized person. Good heavens, she was so aware. I was such a goofy idiot in my early twenties and she taught me so many harsh realities. Since then I have been taking in the harsh realities vociferously. It is important for us to know exactly who we are and not the niceties or euphemistic outlooks that we want to accept for ourselves. Your poetry has more depth and scope than that of most poets. How much of that is drawn from personal experience? Or is most of your inspiration from other sources? I try to keep away from lyricism. I love Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton just as I love the folk music of the sixties, although I'm not part of that generation, being 35 years old. But I know that looking at life deeply through one's own parameters is a complete way of exhausting creativity in a matter of years. It is much better, even in poetry, to imagine other parameters through other imaginary psychological states of mind. Within those characters "Steven Sills" comes out a piece at a time, but often Steven Sills is changed by viewing the world in those perspectives. No piece of literature has changed me so much as Plato's Republic (not even Virginia Woolf, Edward Albee, Faulkner, Doestoevsky, and all those whom we think of as "stream of consciousness writers); And by no other means than the characters I imagine, has Steven Sills' ideas been changed outside of that blessed brief enriching time when I knew Gabriele. All the characters are real ones. You can get a copy of the poetry in many city- or university libraries in the United States, and you will find a richer source of characters than the limited poems that I put up on the internet. How did you go about first getting your works published? Can you describe to our readers the process that one goes through? Before computers, I had all of these poems in a notebook and carried that notebook with me everywhere I went. I'm even more obsessed by the two novels that I have written, and perhaps foolishly believe that I am capturing the existential journey of a persona. One novel is finished. Another one I have been writing for nearly four years, and that is just the first draft. I spend a slavish devotion to them because I am really probing a statement and a psychological state so rich that every paragraph has to be written and rewritten with the complexity of a stanza in a poem. I dedicated the book of poetry to Mike Burns (professor at Southwest Missouri State University) since his help in those early days prompted the English professor at Towson State University, Clarinda Harriss, to publish the book of poetry in Baltimore. Do you ever still struggle with fear of rejection, or even fear of success? Writing something that is truly for the sake of literature (whether a futile attempt or a successful one) is specious*. One has the illusion that something so enriching must inevitably find a publisher; But now that I am 35 years old I have become more pessimistic. I have realized that this will not happen in a commercial world. I'm very pleased with the internet. At least through that medium one doesn't absolutely need a publisher. *specious (adjective) Definition: deceptively appealing; misleading.
This post was modified by Steven Sills on 2004-08-11 18:57:19
This post was modified by molly on 2004-12-09 22:57:58
This post was modified by Steven Sills on 2005-03-22 16:24:52
This post was modified by Steven Sills on 2005-03-22 16:27:05
This post was modified by molly on 2005-05-17 14:37:40